Feedback sought for Jobs and Skills Australia expansion

Government looks for advice to 'delivery greater certainty for business and industry'

Feedback sought for Jobs and Skills Australia expansion

The Australian government is requesting feedback regarding "future arrangements” for new Jobs and Skills Australia (JSA).

"I'm calling on state and territory governments, industry, unions, tertiary providers, and community organisations to consider the Discussion Paper and respond with feedback on how they want JSA to work with them in the future," said Skills and Training Minister Brendan O'Connor.

The JSA is a new statutory body within the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations which aims to provide crucial advice to government on current and emerging workforce needs.

However, it was recently proposed that the JSA's functions should be expanded to ensure it could have an economy-wide perspective in its advice.

"Seeking wide-reaching advice from our tripartite partners will strengthen the integrity of JSA and deliver greater certainty for business and industry and support opportunities for Australians, particularly those most disadvantaged," said O'Connor.

"We need to be sure that when we're investing billions of taxpayers' dollars in skills training, that it is going to fill critical labour market shortages in the economy."

The government is seeking public submissions until February 10, 2023.

JSA's expanded role

According to O'Connor, recent consultations have so far developed the following common themes:

  • Involve state and territory governments as major purchasers of training and ensure jurisdictional needs are considered, local knowledge informs analysis and products, and more targeted solutions are enabled.
  • Have a multi-disciplinary board, with industry, and union representation.
  • Provide more granular data and analysis to inform workforce planning and funding decisions at state and regional levels, and to inform place-based solutions.
  • Provide insights about under-employment, and how to create conditions and pathways to better use the skills and abilities of all Australians, particularly those traditionally disadvantaged.
  • Provide information about workforce supply and demand to understand barriers to participation.
  • Better guide Jobs and Skills Councils to improve workforce planning and training product design.
  • Play a central role in workforce planning and career advice, while also coordinating skills, employment, and migration settings.
  • Provide economy-wide advice that includes higher education.

"We are an open, transparent, and consultative government, and I want to make sure we continue to hear from our partners, to get it right and ensure JSA's work addresses current and future workforce needs," the minister said in a statement.

The government appointed Peter Dawkins AO, emeritus professor of economics at Victoria University as the interim director of JSA.

It also invested an additional $12.9 million in the October budget to help the agency identify and anticipate skills shortages, while another $1.9 million was added so the JSA could boost its role in the clean energy transition.

"JSA will also lead the development and delivery of a $12-million study on adult literacy, numeracy and digital literacy skills, which will provide up-to-date evidence on the level of foundation skills among Australian adults," O'Connor said.

The development comes as Australia aims to address the skills shortage that hit its labour force amid the pandemic. Last year, the government said it is speeding up the visa processing times for educators and healthcare workers to resolve the talent crunch.

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